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Andrew Sutherland "Sutho" (Surrey outposts)
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LeapFrog Mobile Med Kit
LeapFrog Mobile Med Kit
Price: £12.05

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Likeable but fairly limited (and awfully packaged) medical-themed play, 20 Oct 2014
This review is from: LeapFrog Mobile Med Kit (Toy)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
In sum, what you're getting here is a push-along toy 'ambulance' which plays various vaguely-medical themed songs (e.g. 'Head, shoulders knees and toes') and says a bunch of vaguely-health-related phrases when its big red flashing 'siren' is pushed. The ambulance houses 4 toy medical instruments: a stethoscope, otoscope, thermometer and syringe. These can either be played with freely or in tandem with the ambulance which, when its siren is pressed, gives the odd a medical-themed 'task' to complete e.g. 'Take your temperature using the thermometer to see if you've got a fever' etc. Like so many of these sorts of toys, the volume is adjustable but still too loud even on the quietest setting. A minor hit with my child for the timebeing but I forsee a limited shelf-life: the sounds, songs and role-plays 'tasks' are all limited in number and play seemingly at random- so if the child wants a 'task' they would have to repeatedly press the siren and work their way through a bunch of songs and noises until they get one. The instruments don't really 'do' a great deal either. Also, not that any child will mind but this is absolutely the worst-packaged toy I have ever encountered: it literally took me 10 mins with a Swiss army knife to get through all the plastic ties and cardboard- utterly ridiculous!!!


Rapesco 2200 Punch Heavy-duty 2-Hole Capacity 150x 80gsm Black Ref PF220AP1
Rapesco 2200 Punch Heavy-duty 2-Hole Capacity 150x 80gsm Black Ref PF220AP1
Price: £71.76

5.0 out of 5 stars Heavyweight Champion of the Hole-punching World, 12 Oct 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a real beast of a hole-puncher: near-professional build quality (hi-spec metal parts), heavyweight and ultra-sturdy, which is a mixed blessing for the home user: the main pro is that it punches holes through thick documents like a hot knife through butter; absolutely effortless for up to 150 pages at a time, minimal elbow grease required... largely thanks to the really generous extended handle (there's no spring mechanism). The main con is what to do with it when you're not busy punching holes- it's simply too large and bulky to sit there on your desk in any typical home office - you really need somewhere designated to put it... with the handle down, it's going to eat up about half a shelf on a typical bookcase. My office is a shoebox so this bad boy currently lives in the garage, which is a bit of a pain if you need to punch holes regularly (which, if you're thinking about spending £70 on a hole-puncher, I'm guessing you are). It really belongs in a print room. Regardless, if you need a 2-hole puncher for meaty documents, and space isn't an issue, then this is going to deliver the best results imaginable - replacing the cutters and boards looks easy too, although that's an extra expense to think about. But if you live somewhere bijou, need something for only occasional use, and/or typically aren't hole-punching Bible-sized documents, then it's going be overkill.


Rapesco Stapler - Full Strip, Power-assisted X5-50f
Rapesco Stapler - Full Strip, Power-assisted X5-50f
Price: £15.29

4.0 out of 5 stars Turbo-charged stapling!, 7 Oct 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
If you've never used a 'power-assisted' stapler before then it might take you by surprise (it did me): it's manually operated and takes bog-standard staples, but after pushing down only a modest amount (enough, say, to staple 2-3 sheets with a normal stapler) it's as if some kind of 'turbo charge' mode is activated; the stapler's power spring mechanism kicks in, generating circa 5kgs of extra power for every 1kg of pressure applied. Like the turbo mode on an automatic car. The result is that you don't have to press down hard, even when stapling thick documents (the blurb says max. 20 sheets but that strikes me as conservative). It's chunkier than average but not huge and is quite weighty, but not excessively so. Another nice touch is the push button front loading -to load staples, rather than crank back the top, you press a purple button on the base and the loading tray pop out. A nice touch but hardly a deal breaker- the main sell is the power-assistance; that's the only reason you might want to fork out three times as much as for a bog-standard stapler... I think, on balance, I'm converted.


Nikko Transformers R/C Optimus Prime Transforming
Nikko Transformers R/C Optimus Prime Transforming
Price: £37.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Instant hit... but short ‘play toy’ shelf-life probable, 29 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Tried this out with a friend who has 3 boys (5-year old twins and a 7-year old)- Optimus Prime is a huge name in her family household. The kids were quite excited on sight of the toy in the big box it comes packaged in. All of them have watched the transformer cartoons so that was helpful. Once switched on the children were thrilled at the lights and noises it was making; its switches are quite basic to work and it lights up and fills the room with the sound of “My name is Optimus Prime” over and over again, which can get quite irritating (but not for the children). It did do as it said i.e. it transformed at the touch of the button - so it was easy for the 7 year old to play with straight away, manoeuvring it from the truck to the robot. There are a few minor issues - it didn’t work well on the rug, but it was fine on low pile carpet and the kitchen table! It's quite expensive for what you get. The toy itself does feel a little cheaply made and the lack of talking (as not much else is said other then repeating his name) leaves you slightly upset and the fact that it takes four AA batteries leaves me thinking that the batteries will probably need changing quite quickly. Slightly overpriced and possibly short lived excitement due to the limited speech and movement means this toy will have a short ‘play toy’ shelf life and be left in toy box unfortunately.


LeapFrog Learning Friends Play and Discover School Set
LeapFrog Learning Friends Play and Discover School Set
Price: £24.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice concept toy for introducing the idea of school to toddlers, 29 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This toy is a nice concept – it’s basically a little model school classroom complete with a teacher (giraffe) and pupils (a monkey, a turtle and a tiger- I think you can buy others separately). You slide the teacher to select the school activity (there are 5: greetings, sharing time, story time, break time, free play) whereas the pupils are little free-moving figurines who you can play with on the carousel or the slide. There’s quite a lot to it: by placing the different figurines in different places you activate different modes/sounds (make them talk, sing etc). I could see how this might be a useful way to initially introduce the concept of school to a toddler, although that would require a fair bit of parental participation since this is otherwise quite far removed from the reality of school (my teacher, for instance, was not a giraffe).


Leifheit # 72592 Large Lightweight Deluxe Ironing Board for Steam Generator Irons-Air Steam Premium MAXX
Leifheit # 72592 Large Lightweight Deluxe Ironing Board for Steam Generator Irons-Air Steam Premium MAXX
Price: £80.84

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Size (and weight) matters, 26 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Got this to replace a bog-standard Minky metal ironing board. The Leifheit is certainly a trade up, although whether it justifies the £130 price point I'm unsure. First thing to say is that it is a bit of a beast, size-wise: 130 x 45 cm They do have a smaller model (38cm wide), but a larger ironing surface does make for a quicker job ironing since you're spending less time re-positioning the clothing and the extra 7 cm is worth it in my opinion. But maybe if you have storage space issues it's worth bearing in mind. That said, once collapsed, the size matters less and thanks to its non-metal construction (it's made from some weird heat-retardant plastic foam) it's actually surprisingly lightweight (we hang ours on a hook in the wall no probs). Second thing to mention is the height adjustment - big plus point of this model, you can raise it very high, way higher than most people would need. I'm 6ft 1" and normally end up stooping when ironing but not with this. The mechanism for adjusting the height is intuitive and robust, in fact the whole thing feels pretty solid and well constructed. In terms of actual ironing performance - I used this with a regular steam iron, not a steam generator (which the tray is designed for- so that means simply leaving a steam iron upright on the board between strokes- no real problem), and was impressed - the fabric cover is dotted with lots of tiny holes to aid with steam permeation and it outperformed my old board somewhat. Odd that it says "only suitable for steam generators or steam stations" since I had no issues whatsoever. I found the spiral mast arrangement with a clip for controlling the lead of the iron pretty pointless but it folds down if you don't use it- no requirement to unscrew. My main quibble is the packaging: the instructions come attached to the cover with plastic ties threaded through the cover (like price tags in clothes) and in removing these I actually ripped the cover a little. That small annoyance aside, I really couldn't think what more one could possibly ask for in an ironing board- although frankly, a Brabantia at half the price will very possibly serve you equally well. If weight is a big concern for you though, I guess this will shade it.


Ultrasport Racer 700M home trainer with hand pulse sensors, incl. drinking bottle
Ultrasport Racer 700M home trainer with hand pulse sensors, incl. drinking bottle
Price: £158.91

4.0 out of 5 stars 6-point review of a 4-star bike, 23 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
1. Assembly - Instructions were pretty clear, took about 45 minutes to assemble.
2. Seat - Comfortable and backwards/forwards adjustment very useful. My previous bike had only height adjustment.
3. Build quality - Above average sturdiness and stability feel. Portable by average male (slides easily on carpet).
4. Features - Has all necessary features especially pulse sensor in handlebars. Time distance and speed readouts large and clear.
5. 'Gear' change - Very accessible and easy, distinctive clicks.
6. Smoothness of ride - Acceptable, but not quite as much as heavy professional bikes with a drivebelt.


'Til The Band Comes In
'Til The Band Comes In
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Walker's half-brilliant 'bridging' album, containing at least one Masterpiece, 10 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It's apt really that '`Til the Band Comes In' (1970) shows such a pronounced split between its two sides (Side A featuring original material, some of it excellent; Side B consisting almost entirely of covers, most of them dreary) because it can be seen very much as a 'bridging' album for Walker: the four preceding albums, Scotts 1-4 are the stuff of legend, each progressively darker and more idiosyncratic than the last, as Walker gradually shed his teen appeal, and moved away from classic ballads and Broadway hits towards Brel covers and his own, much more interesting material. But he always struggled to balance his own stuff with the demands of the entertainment industry and later 70s work saw Walker losing that battle, reverting to schmaltzy film tunes and country covers (before eventually moving towards a new, avant-garde sound in the 80s). All of which makes '`Til the Band Comes In' a fascinating halfway-point artefact if nothing else; the sound of a man straddling two eras, with one foot still in his creative past and another heading towards his tamer near-future. Which would be reason enough to take interest I suppose were it not for the fact that '`Til the Band Comes In' actually does stand on its own merits for the most part; this is much more than merely a curio, it's a sporadically excellent album. Conventional critical wisdom that the covers on Side B let the album down is about right; presumably a compromise with the record company and a sad signal of the rot that would eventually set in (although they're boring rather than plain awful; Walker's voice is too good for that). What's more, the Walker originals on Side A, though good, are mostly are a step down from those on Scotts 3 and 4, or at least, they don't display the same growth which those records did. Be that as it may, there's still room for some exquisite moments, and from Side A there are three or four tracks which surely rank among his best work, particularly the rousing-but-melancholic title track, the jazzy, measured 'Time Operator' and the gorgeous epilogue 'The War Is Over'. And then there's the real standout: 'Thanks For Chicago Mr. James' - an absolute Masterpiece. And by Masterpiece, I really do mean a a 24-carat, Chateux-bottled, ocean going, copper-bottomed, nuclear-powered MASTERPIECE. Two minutes of heartbreaking perfection sung as only Scott can sing. That song alone would justify the admission price. Factor the rest of Side A into account and you're looking a genuinely worthy addition to the Walker catalogue.


Graco Evo Pushchair 2014 Range (Khaki)
Graco Evo Pushchair 2014 Range (Khaki)
Price: £179.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent pushchair with reversible seat – everything you could hope for, for less than £200., 9 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I’ve not used this in combination with the Graco car seat or carrycot; only as a pushchair – but as a pushchair I’ve found the Graco Evo to be first-rate: first thing you notice is the decent build-quality - it feels reassuringly sturdy, but at the same time it’s relatively lightweight and easy/responsive to steer. It also folds down quickly and easily for putting in the car, making it a very portable option, despite the fact that it has a really generous basket underneath that will accommodate quite a lot of kit/shopping. Its pièce de résistance though is the reversible seat, meaning you have the option of front or rear-facing travel (very handy). It also folds down completely flat for better snoozing. Throw the option of a compatible car seat into the mix and I cannot think what else you would want for this price. In terms of the criticisms: I’m 6ft and don’t particularly struggle with it, whereas others have criticised the lack of extendibility. Others have also criticised the suspension but on a typical street there’s no problem; I guess off road it is a little bumpy but no more so than any other pram with plastic tyres, which, personally, I prefer anyway (no risk of damage and easy to clean).


Melissa & Doug Chalk and Eraser Bundle (White)
Melissa & Doug Chalk and Eraser Bundle (White)
Price: £6.29

2.0 out of 5 stars Too breakable for very young artists, 8 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I was pretty underwhelmed by this if I’m honest – what you’re buying is a pack of white chalks, a pack of coloured chalks and a duster that works on blackboards and whiteboards. The chalks are too thin for toddlers – they snap each time they’re dropped on our tiled kitchen floor, or even if they’re just used with abandon. For older children this perhaps isn’t an issue. But they arrive so tightly packed together that it was virtually impossible to avoid breaking a few as you get them out the pack. The duster is fine as duster’s go but I prefer to use a damp cloth- duster’s always leave behind chalk residue and this one’s no different. All in all: underwhelming.


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